“Oh Daddy, I felt so sorry for Annabel…”
Maria was on the phone. She was telling about one of her friends…and money worries…
“She was sitting on the couch. And all of a sudden she burst into tears. She was crying because she is out of money…
“Her car broke down and she doesn’t have the money to get it fixed. And she had to go and have some medical work done. She just doesn’t have any money left…
“And she’s already working all she possibly can. She works with me at the studio. And she picks up bartending jobs on the side. She works all day…and then works at night too. But I think it is getting to her. She just can’t go on…
“I asked her if her folks could help her out. But she said that her father lost his job in the recession…and they don’t have any money to lend her.
“Honestly, I felt so lucky to have you behind me. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the family supporting me. I guess I just wouldn’t be able to keep going either. I’d have to give up the idea of being an actress because it’s almost impossible to support yourself and still go to all the castings and try-outs.”
Elizabeth added a comment:
“I was talking to [a French friend]. He thinks it is typically American to expect each generation to make it on its own. Americans think they should put aside enough money to pay their retirements, and that’s all. They don’t worry about their children. They think the children should take care of themselves. Anyway, that’s what he thinks Americans think…and he’s probably mostly right about it.
“The French attitude is much different. They keep the children closer…and help them more. He’s got five children and he wants to be able to leave them something. He’s just begun a new business venture, because he says he wasn’t able to earn enough in his job.
“He makes a good point: when you have to start from nothing, you just won’t get as far. You know, it’s a bit like what Newton said. He was able to make spectacular progress because, as he put it, he could ‘stand on the shoulders of giants.’ But that’s true for everything. One generation stands on the work of the one that came before it. And if there is nothing to stand on…they have to start from scratch. They are able to do more…if they have a firm foundation to stand on. And there are something things they couldn’t do at all without it. Maria, for example, would be forced to get a more serious job, if we weren’t helping her with her bills while she’s getting established. And Jules, too. He wants a career in music. But if he couldn’t count on us to help him, he’d probably have to do something that pays better now.
“There’s a lot to be said for the American can-do emphasis on self- reliance. But there’s something to be said for the French attitude too. The ideal is to give your children the spirit of self-reliance and the confidence that comes from making it on their own…but also to give them something to work with…so they don’t have to start at the very bottom.”
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